World War II started for the Dutch in May 1940 with the bombing of Rotterdam. It continued through the deportation of most of nation’s 140,000 Jews (only 30,000 would survive the war), the failed Operation Market Garden (the basis of the film A Bridge Too Far) and the Hunger Winter of 1944-1945. They were finally liberated by Canadian forces in May 1945. When war broke out, the Dutch had hoped to remain neutral, but after the bombing of Rotterdam the Dutch government refused to cooperate. So for most of the war, the Netherlands was controlled by a German civilian governor. Under the occupation some cooperated with the Germans, but many did not. The resistance to the Nazis is chronicled in the excellent Verzetsmuseum, the Dutch Resistance Museum.
Though on the other side of the city center, this makes a great compliment to the Anne Frank House. Both offer a glimpse into Dutch civilian life during World War II and the struggles civilians underwent to fight oppression. The exhibits take you through the resistance movement on a national as well as personal level with detailed documents, posters, photographs, clothing, personal accounts, spy equipment and more. The floor plan makes following the timeline from the outbreak of the war to liberation easy. The museum itself is small, dark and quiet, which creates the perfect atmosphere for such a somber experience. Many of the heroes you will learn about lost their lives fighting for not only their own freedom, but the freedom of others.
Admission to the museum is €7.50. It is open Tuesday through Friday from 10am to 5pm and Saturday through Monday from 11am to 5pm. Plan on spending one to two hours here. The museum is close to the Hortus Botanicus, so consider combining these two amazing sites.
This is your chance to see how (extra)ordinary people battled against Nazi oppression.